In his letter of Jan. 4 Richard Talbot quoted an old friend that “Climate is always changing – it’s called weather.” I guess we are supposed to conclude that it is silly to be concerned about climate change, because weather is changing every day.
But Mr. Talbot’s friend was mistaken. Climate is not the same as weather; it is the average of weather over many years – check any dictionary. However, climate can change over the years and that is what is happening to our climate now.
In Canada the clearest evidence of climate change is the warming of the northern plains and the Arctic. For example, nights of -40 C and colder used to occur almost every winter in Saskatoon, Sask. – but such cold nights do not happen anymore. Even -35 C is becoming rare. The remarkable warming of the winter nighttime lows in the Prairies and in the Arctic is exactly what is expected from the increase of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases lessen the cooling of the earth surface by infrared radiation into the immense cold of outer space. The effect is especially noticeable during long winter nights: the temperature does not drop as much as it used to do.
I’m glad to know that Mr. Talbot is willing to do his little bit to combat climate change by not lighting the Christmas pudding. He could put in a little extra effort, like lowering thermostat settings or taking the bus to go to downtown Victoria. That would be good for the earth and for his wallet. And he could celebrate his environmental good works by having some fun and lighting the pudding next Christmas – it’s OK, the once per year carbon emission is very, very small.
Garth van der Kamp